We've got threads for the weekly new releases and trades/OGNs so why not small press & indie comics? I'll get the ball rolling with a selection of stuff I've picked up in the last month or so. Sorted in alphabetical order, with links where possible:
Chloe Noonan Monster Hunter Colour Special by Marc Ellerby - 4/5
I like Marc Ellerby's work - his linework is appealing and he has a whimsy to his humour that I like. His Chloe Noonan stuff is better, I think, than his Ellerbisms material because it's better structure. In this issue Chloe faces her worst enemy yet - a 15s-and-over student night at the local nightclub. An excellent colour job really helps the art pop even more than usual, and despite it being about a decade since I was last stuck in a shitty student club night I still grimaced while laughing my arse off reading this.
More info at Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter by Marc Ellerby.
Comix Reader #3 by various - 5/5
The third issue of Richard Cowdry's Comix Reader anthology is another great comic, printed on newsprint at tabloid newspaper size and with the awesome cover price of £1. It has a lovely cover by Eliott Baggott, and a great mix of pages from small press & indie creators. Cowdry's Fat Charlie Chaplin is great, with a sense of humour that fans of his Bedsit Diaries series will recognize. Elliot Baggott follows up his lovely cover with a great joke about Johannes Guthenberg, inventor of printed movable type. Maartje Schalkx has a minimalist page that works in an impressionist suggestive way. Tanya Meditzky & Tobias Tak provide a great two page comic about a walking tree who wants a makeover. Steve Tillotson of Banal Pig gives us a glorious "gradual reveal" page where each panel in an enormous grid reveals a bit more of a larger scene. Steve Ward's Invisual Arts is a gorgeous-looking darkly-comic page, and Lord Hurk's back cover comic "Lonely Bomb" is fantastic. And that's just 8 of the 20-odd pages in there. It's great. Check it out.
More info at The Comix Reader.
The Human Beings by Sofia Niazi - 3/5
A proper minicomic in size (ie around A6 page size) and printed up in a lovely fashion, this is one of those little comics that's all about execution. It's really more a storybook than a comic, really (one of those ones where you get a line of story and a picture per page) but it's done in such a great way, each page designed and presented as embroidery. The story is a simplistic "Back in the stone age, we were happier because we were IN TOUCH WITH NATURE" hippy waffling, but the presentation (including some very nice glossy paper and a good colour print job) makes up for it. Plus, you know, it was only £1.
More info at Sowfia.
Killjoy #1 by Robert Killjoy - 2.5/5
To a certain extent I should've known with this one (the cover carries the message "A comic for the discerning nostalgist"). It has a nicely-drawn and particularly nicely-coloured cover, and the artwork overall is uncomplicated but effective....unfortunately, the story is a bit boring and there's nothing to really hook you in or bring you back. Being an account of how the author went to scout camp as a child and a couple of minor anecdotes that happened there, without any wider context for them, it just sort of goes for a while and then stops. It's far from the worst auto-bio comic I've ever read, and it's not that it's actually bad as such (we're not in Ariel Schrag territory here, thank Christ)- it's just not particularly gripping material.
More info at pygmyking.blogspot.com.
The Lengths #1-4 (of 8) by Howard Hardiman - 4.5/5
I know reviewing four issues at once is a bit of a cheat, but since they're all part of a longer story it works. The overall story is about Eddie, an art student who ends up falling for a male escort and following him into the world of prostitution and beyond. It has a Maus-like conceit of using canine faces for all its protagonists, and a cute conceit for the inside front and bad covers that introduce the primary players. Hardiman's artwork progresses and becomes more confident with each issue, with greater depth of shading and confidence of line as the series progresses. It's all in service of the story and the characters, though. We quickly get a handle on all of them and their flaws, but seeing how events and their interactions progress is fascinating. I'm definitely on board for this for the rest of the series, and I heartily recommend this.
More info at The Lengths a gay comic by Howard Hardiman.
Papercutter #16 & 17 by various - 3/5 & 4/5
I've read one or two issues of Papercutter before, on loan from a friend, so when I found out that Gosh had some recent issues on the shelf I was happy to pick them up. I will admit to being slightly disappointed in issue 16 - the opening story was the longest and weakest of the lot. It was alright, but could have been done more effectively in about half the pagecount. The other one was a very nicely illustrated "cycle of life" piece that veered between heavy-handed and tongue-in-cheek farce tonally. Issue 17 was stronger, with a larger selection of shorter pieces amongst which such highlights as The Weeper (in which the protagonist rediscovers some Batman comics he drew as a child, featuring his very own villain, The Weeper), Scenes From A Fire (an autobio comic done right, about a household fire and its consequences) and Avo (a short piece about family with some lovely artwork).
More info at Tugboat Press.
The Peckham House for Invalids #1 by Howard Hardiman, Sarah Gordon and Julia Scheele - 4/5
Disabled teenage superheroines in 1906 Peckham may sound like an odd pitch, but it works rather well. The whole thing has the tone of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen crossed with The Umbrella Academy, but moving relatively quickly in its own direction. It's not clear yet exactly what the larger story will be, as the first issue is mainly establishing our main characters and setting, but it ought to be quite interesting to find out. If you like your superfolk with a bit of a twist, you might find a lot to like here.
More info at The Peckham Invalids.
Wu Wei by Mike Medaglia - 4/5
I've seen Mike's work before in Wet Ashes on a friend's recommendation and really enjoyed it (and also in Comix Reader #3), so when I found out he had something new out I figured I should take a look. I'm glad I did - there's a sort of laid-back undertone to these comics which is entirely appropriate, since meditation and Zen are core themes. I particularly like the first story about the professor visiting a Buddhist monk in a bamboo forest - simple details like the brush strokes used for the bamboo shoots and some clever layout design choices really strengthen it and make it all the more effective. The same design sensibilities underpin the other two stories here - a slice-of-life comic about a day in the author's life and an abstract comic that uses the contrast between black & white and the relative orientation of various shapes to create a sensation of time passing. The production values are high with this one, with slick glossy paper and a nice print job (not to mention good designs for front and back covers).
No linky, sadly